Suzi's Blog

Chili Mocha Frosting

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Sometimes life does get better. And easier. For example, a couple of years ago, a Starbucks opened on our block. It’s around the corner, to be true, but in a short walk of 400 feet we can have our java anytime we want. There is no excuse, no matter how wet or snowy or windy, for missing out on one of life’s necessary pleasures.

Before this Starbucks opened, we had to travel very far to get our fix. Four blocks, which on a snowy day does in fact make you think twice.

Hot coffee can be drunk. Or it can be eaten. Here’s a sublime Mocha Frosting that calls for blending cocoa powder with hot coffee.

Mocha frosting in the morning? Sure. Dip some of those Walker’s Shortbread cookies — often on the shelves at Starbucks — into this frosting for an extra morning caffeine jolt.

This frosting is delightful on cakes, cupcakes and cookies. There is nothing like a warm browning with hot mocha frosting.

Chili Mocha Frosting  

Yield: fills and frosts one 2-layer 8- or 9-inch cake


  • ¼ cup butter at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar [plus more if needed to get the desired consistency]
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons hot coffee


In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add the cocoa powder, salt and chili powder. Add the powdered sugar ¼ cup at a time. Periodically, add teaspoon portions of the vanilla and coffee as you strive for frosting consistency.

Too much liquid? Try beating the frosting on high speed. If necessary add more powdered sugar, one tablespoon at a time.When all the ingredients are in the bowl, beat until smooth.

Source: Adapted from Chocolate Cookery by Mable Hoffman


Vermont Maple Syrup Frosting: The Clementine Paddleford Project


By now, this year’s batch of maple syrup has arrived at the farmers markets. Fresh, new and with the same questions of vintage and terroir that accompany the arrival of any wine. What hath a warm winter wrought?

And what to do with that syrup? A frosting, of course. Here is one from a woman famed for her sweet tooth, Clementine Paddleford whose classic How America Eats has been lovely edited by Kelly Alexander into a new edition The Great American Cookbook. Kelly, with a superb forward by Molly O’Neill, describes why this book is so important and should be readily at hand on your bookshelf.

Clem, as she was known, was the food editor for the then greatest New York City newspaper, The New York Herald Tribune. From 1936 until 1966, she traveled and she wrote. She drove 800,000 miles and she flew her own Piper Cub to wonderfully un-urban locales, like lumberjack camps in Washington State.

Clem’s mission was to capture the food of the nation in that period. She had a readership of 12 million people per week, when this country had only 140 million residents. She wrote of the regional specialties before our influx of Latin and Asian immigrants. She wrote of food before Julia or Marcella. She wrote about a different America at a different time.

The Great American Cookbook has 500 recipes. Some are classics, some are hysterically outdated. Some sound like a dish you would only serve to your most hated relative. But they are here in this book, and they are authentic as hell.

So, from time to time, this blog will pay tribute to Clem by working our way through The Great American Cookbook, working our way mostly from East to West but with occasional side trips. We won’t post every single recipe and we’ll avoid those ones that you could use for justified vengeance on that relative. But, like this Vermont Maple Frosting, we will post the recipes that are obviously wonderful.

In an age when a recipe can run for 3 or 4 pages, Clem’s recipes are often as short as this one. Often simple and impeccably authentic, these are gems for you. Perhaps a bit dusty. Perhaps unfamiliar. But gems still and ones you deserve to try.

Truthfully, Suzen and I have not made this frosting yet. It’s on my schedule to do in a week. And, I have to say that beating just one egg white makes me think this is a real Depression era recipe when each egg had deep value for many families. With a modern mixer, even a hand held one, doing one egg white is much harder than two. So, I’ll tell you now that I plan on a little experiment. Two egg whites. Fresh from chickens down the hill.

I don’t think Clem would mind. In fact, she’d be the first to put her finger in the bowl and say, “Ah.”

Vermont Maple Frosting

Yield: 2 cups, enough for one 9”x13” cake or the tops and sides of two 8” or 9” rounds


  • 1 ¾ cups maple syrup
  • 1 large egg white, stiffly beaten
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts


In a 1-quart saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over medium heat and boil for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Gradually pour the hot syrup over the beaten egg white, beating constantly until the frosting forms soft peaks. Gently fold in the walnuts. The frosting may be stored in an airtight container or heavy duty-freezer bag in the refrigerator for a month.

Source: The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford